Slain Deputy James D. Paugh called 'hero'

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James D. Paugh was a hero, but it wasn’t his death that made it so.

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When the funeral procession arrived, a carriage pulled by two black horses carried Deputy James D. Paugh's body to the burial site at Hillcrest Memorial Park.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
When the funeral procession arrived, a carriage pulled by two black horses carried Deputy James D. Paugh's body to the burial site at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

In life, Paugh was the man who cooked turkeys for firefighters during the holidays, served meals to fellow Richmond County deputies during Masters Week, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for his neighbors.

He was one who always followed a greeting with a comment to brighten your day.

“The making of a hero is day after day doing what is right,” the Rev. Rodger Murchison said Thursday to a First Baptist Church of Augusta sanctuary packed with men and women in uniform. “Even when you are tired. Even when you are going home late at night and the day has been long, but your duty tells you someone might need me.”

That compulsion proved fatal for Paugh, who was headed home from a special detail early Sunday when he pulled over to investigate a suspicious vehicle on Bobby Jones Expressway at Gordon Highway. Paugh, 47, was immediately fired on by Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, who was drunk and arguing with his girlfriend. After killing Paugh, Hodges turned his assault rifle on himself and took his own life.

In a service that mixed formal ceremony with raw emotion, friends recalled the slain deputy’s character and talked about what makes a hero.

Ken Gross, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office chaplain, said Paugh was not a polished character, nor was he perfect.

“But here in Georgia we love junkyard dogs,” Gross said.

Gross described Paugh as a man willing to give up his time to serve others in public safety and the community. That meshed well with his passion for riding motorcycles.

Because he loved his job in the traffic division, “J.D. hasn’t worked for the past 17 years,” Gross said.

The sanctuary was jammed with deputies from Richmond and Columbia counties, but a wide array of uniforms also represented jurisdictions from across Georgia and South Carolina. Gross said he felt sorry for those who never had a chance to meet Paugh.
“You missed out,” Gross said.

In his message, Murchison explored what made Paugh a hero and how  everyone can follow his example. He quoted condolences from all across the country, lamenting the death of a brother officer.

“Our spirits are lifted in the knowledge that Deputy Paugh died a hero, and we are proud of his courage and selfless actions,” Capt. John Sharp of the Walker (La.) Police Department wrote to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Murchison concluded that Paugh was a hero because he was an ordinary man who took extraordinary actions.

Turn from all the “why” questions and start asking what Paugh would want us to do, Murchison said.

“I think J.D. would say, ‘Be your own hero,’  ” Murchison said.

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whooney65
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whooney65 10/27/11 - 11:48 am
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Wow 5-6 thousand for his

Wow 5-6 thousand for his funeral!!!Police officers from as far as New York City...officers from every county you can think of...What a great tribute to such a great man!!!

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 10/27/11 - 02:19 pm
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Rest in Peace, Mr. Paugh.
Unpublished

Rest in Peace, Mr. Paugh.

shenyse86
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shenyse86 10/28/11 - 08:12 am
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Was a really nice send off

Was a really nice send off for someone who was born to help others. My question though, has anyone thought that there are TWO mothers, fathers, families, etc. who have lost sons. While the young man who committed the murder is obviously guilty, it's a shame that his family is suffering as well. Blessings to the family of the officers, but blessings to the family of the young man as well.

IsAnyoneAlwaysRight
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IsAnyoneAlwaysRight 10/28/11 - 11:39 am
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No comment !

No comment !

razordog
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razordog 10/28/11 - 11:43 am
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shenyse86, While we are all

shenyse86,
While we are all aware that the other family is suffering too, look at the tremendous loss to our community left by Deputy Paugh. Any questions as to why there have not been more people speaking out and making comments about what a great guy Christopher Michael Hodges was? I haven't seen any! Who, by the way, was driving drunk, arguing with his girlfriend, and shooting at innocent people riding by that night? Yeah, we heard from that girlfriend, but wasn't he still married??? Has anyone spoke of the selfless contributions made by Christopher Hodges to our community? I didn't know JD personally, but have been overwhelmed by the comments made by others and the show of support from all over. One was a hero for doing what he thought was right, and the other was a coward for taking his own life and not accepting responsibility for his actions. Something in his mind had to tell him that what he did was wrong, or he would not have turned the gun on himself. Everyone has their opinion, and this is just mine.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
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Crime Reports and Rewards TV 11/11/11 - 03:08 pm
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A too oft repeated tragedy:o(

A too oft repeated tragedy:o(

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